How To Make Homemade Magic Sand

Make Magic Sand Yourself Using Household Ingredients

Make Magic Sand from colored art sand.
Make Magic Sand from colored art sand and waterproofing. lisinski, Getty Images

Magic Sand (also known as Aqua Sand or Space Sand) is a type of sand that doesn't get wet when placed in water.

Magic Sand Materials

Basically, all you need to do is coat the sand with a waterproofing chemical.

  • clean sand
  • waterproofing spray (e.g., Scotchguard)

How To Make Magic Sand

  1. Place the sand in a small pan or bowl.
  2. Evenly spray the surface of the sand with the waterproofing chemical. You may need to shake the container of sand to expose untreated surfaces. You don't have to drown the sand in the chemical -- you'll have enough once the sand changes from looking dry to appearing wet.
  1. Allow the sand to dry.
  2. That's it! Pour the sand in water and it won't get wet.

How Magic Sand Works

Commercial Magic Sand, Aqua Sand, and Space Sand consists of colored sand that has been coated with trimethylsilanol. This is a water-repellent or hydrophobic organosilicon molecule that seals any cracks or pits in sand and prevents water from sticking to it. Magic Sand appears silvery in water because hydrogen bonding between water molecules causes the water to form a bubble around the sand. This is critical to how the sand functions because if the water didn't stick to itself so well, the anti-wetting agent wouldn't be effective. If you feel like testing this, try putting Magic Sand in a non-water-based liquid. It will get wet!

If you look closely, you'll see the sand forms cylindrical structures in the water, as the water forms the lowest surface area structure that it can around the grains.

Because of this, people sometimes assume there is something special about the sand. Really, it's the coating and the 'magic' properties of water.

Another Way To Make Magic Sand

Water repellent sand was made long before toy makers marketed Magic Sand. Early in the 20th century, Magic Sand was made by heating together sand and wax.

The excess wax was drained, leaving hydrophobic sand that behaved much like the modern product.

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Reference

  1.  G. Lee, Leonard (Publisher) (1999), The Boy Mechanic Book 2, 1000 Things For A Boy To Do. Algrove Publishing - Classic Reprint Series original publication 1915.